After a thorough search of the area to find the Society’s on ‘Tommy Steele’ to play the lead in "Half a Sixpence", director Allan Stronnach, choreographer Anna Twilley and M.D Steven Povey cast Peter Shreeves, who learn the mammoth role in a very short time (6-8 weeks). Peter, like other past members of the Society such as Kev Orkian, Peter Eldridge and Erik Williams, who all appeared in "Brigadoon" in 1996, decided to turn professional soon after, appearing in the Millfield Theatre’s 2001 panto.
John Basham returned as Director for "Oh! What a Lovely War" after directing "Cabaret" in 1998 and, with his daughter Katie as choreographer and Ricardo Gonzalez as M.D., gave the audiences a moving and memorable interpretation of the classic anti-war revue, especially with its finale of over 20,000 poppies raining down on the cast and audience.
"Chess", in 2001, another complex show set in the competitive world of Chess championships and Cold War politics but the society rose to the challenge of the rather taxing score by Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, under the direction of Ann Hertler-Smith.
"The Sounds of Musicals" in 2001 turned out to be a lot of work for all involved including the director/choreographer Annie Hertler-Smith - returning to the company after "Guys & Dolls" in 1999 - and Ricardo Gonzalez as M.D - and all the company with over 40 musical numbers to learn and perform but turned out to be one of the biggest hits for the society in years - playing to over 94% which meant the society was able to donate a cheque for £4000 to London Autism their chosen charity for that specific production.
2002 was an important year for FFBOS being their 80th anniversary and the society put on once again two critically successful productions at the Millfield. "Hot Mikado" was yet another updated version of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado this time set in the 1940's American Zoot suit era with a jazzy Big Band sound with staging by Sue Stannard, musical direction by Clive Swann and magnificent lighting by Steve Bates and a hard working company especially the men's chorus who had five very exhausting routines at the beginning of the show.
Sadly the production also had some sadness attached to it as Ken Dixon passed away very suddenly during rehearsals and who was going to play the Mikado. Later in the year the society took part in "A Celebration to Ken" in memory of their much missed friend and the society also did their bit for charity over the year raising over £350 for the North London Hospice with collections and raffles during both shows and social events such as the Anniversary Dinner/Dance in October which was an memorable night for all members - active and honorary.
In November the society presented "Me & My Girl" for the first time since 1955 which was another popular show with the company and audience was directed by John Basham with witty choreography by Simone Clarke and musical direction by Ricardo Gonzalez. The souvenir programme for this production later went on to win a NODA Regional Award - The F. Leslie Cowham Trophy for Programme Design - Souvenir/De Luxe Class.
Over the past 85 years Finchley and Friern Barnet Operatic Society has had its share of successes thanks mainly to the support of its past and present members of the society whether Active or Honorary, all the Executive Committee members, the hard working ticket secretaries and backstage crews, make up, lighting, sound, wardrobe, property, rehearsal pianists and orchestras and lastly the audiences without who's support throughout the years would not have kept the society running of 85 years be quietly pleased and proud of its progress so far.
2003 saw the society stage two exciting and totally different productions that showed the variety of talent within the company at that time - Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" - a first for FFBOS and the Millfield - which turned out to be one of the most lavish - and expensive - shows the society had ever staged, directed by Allan Stronnach and Graham Nicholls as M.D - and Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" with the return of John Basham and Ricardo Gonzalez as director and M.D. The society also took part in the centenary celebrations of their Wednesday rehearsal home, St. Andrew's and in the same year the society saw the sad passing of a hardworking and much loved member of the society - Doris Jewell.